Deadline: Players are watching

Interest in trade deadline goes beyond fans and into dressing rooms

Sunday, 27.02.2011 / 10:01 AM / News
By Mike Board  - CF.com Digital Content Director
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Deadline: Players are watching

Brendan Morrison was just a young pup in the National Hockey League when he experienced his first trade. The year was 2000. He remembers it as clear as a bell.

Morrison was then with the New Jersey Devils, in the midst of this third NHL season at the age of 25. He and his then-fiance were in New York City having lunch with his future brother-in-law, Dallas Stars broadcaster Darryl Reaugh.

TRADE DEADLINE 2011
Jay Feaster

"Darryl was talking about trades on a radio station in Canada," recalled Morrison. "At the end of the interview he asked if there were any more trades. They said 'Hold on, something is just coming across the wire. Alex Mogilny just got traded to New Jersey for Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson.'

"So, Darryl turns and says 'Oh really. I am having lunch with Brendan right now...I will let him know.' He hangs up the phone and says to me 'I think you've been traded.'"

Almost immediately, Morrison began getting calls from friends who had seen the news on one of the sports channels.

"When I actually officially found out was when I was pulling into my driveway in New Jersey and found out from the team," said Morrison, now a veteran at the age of the 35 in the NHL.

While that wasn't the best way to find out about being traded, it wasn't all bad for Morrison. He was born in the Vancouver area, so it was a homecoming for him and he became an integral part of the Canucks West Coast Express with Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund. He also did not have kids in school so uprooting and moving was less painful than it might have been.

"For me it was a great opportunity to come home, being from Vancouver.," said Morrison. "The toughest thing at first is going through the emotions -- you are a young guy going from a team that you have been with a couple of years that doesn't want you. But then you are going to a team that wants you. Really, for me, the whole experience was positive."

There are many stories about players finding out how they have been traded. Being called off team buses. Watching television in the dressing room. Getting a call from a reporter. Hearing from a friend. You name it, trade news comes in all shapes and sizes. Craig Conroy remembers getting a call from a broadcaster to ask him about him being traded. Conroy, at the time, thought he was calling about another trade and had no idea he had been moved -- to Calgary, no less.

For fans, trade deadline day is fun. It brings huge numbers of viewers to television and websites throughout the hockey world.

For players, however, it can be a nervous time

At 1 pm MT on Monday there are players around the league who will likely breathe a sigh of relief that they did not get traded. And others who will be happy that friends didn't get traded.

"I've been fortunate I haven't had a close friend go at the deadline. A lot of times it has been good teams and they have been looking to add, instead of trade guys," said Morrison.

The Flames, who have gone on a run since mid-December and find themselves in the thick of the Western Conference playoff hunt, may be just such a team. Instead of trading players, they may be looking to add players.

At least that's the indication from acting general manager Jay Feaster, coach Brent Sutter and players in the room.

"I haven't put much thought into it and I don't think a lot of guys on our team have been. We're playing great, we're winning. We feel our team has as much potential as anybody," said winger Alex Tanguay. "Who knows what is going to happen. It is out of our hands. I'm sure Jay (Feaster) is trying to help our team.

"I'm sure he is finding ways to help the team. We've shown here we can climb. Since Christmas we have been one of the best teams in the NHL. I think most guys in here would tell you we are comfortable with the team and hoping that we can be very good from here on."

Sutter, meanwhile, has had regular conversations with Feaster.

"As far as my thoughts...I like our team. I like the way we play. We've worked hard to get the chemistry we have and playing the way we are. We have everyone engaged and playing that solid team game. That is what you want as a coach," said Sutter.

That chemistry is something the Flames don't want to upset.

"I think the important thing is the players are accountable to each other to make sure it is done the right way," said Sutter. "It doesn't matter what line goes out there, they play the same way. When you have that mind set it takes away the inconsistencies in the game. You might not see it and the fane might not see it but in the dressing room they are accountable for it. It is huge."

Even so, players will pay attention to the television and the Internet on Monday.

"There is so much hype to it," said Morrison. "You do pay attention to it. When the television is on in the room, you are watching. We are fans just as much as anybody else."

Is the hype too much?

"Sometimes it gets out of control," smiled Morrison.